How Smart Shopping Leads To Better Health, Even On Budget

Smart shopping starts with a grocery list. By shopping with a grocery list, you not only realize cost benefits, but you save time, make healthier food choices and become more conscious about the things that are important in your life. We’ve all experienced going into the grocery store to pick up that one thing, then leaving the store with a trunk load of items, many of which we could have done without. Well this can easily be avoided by shopping with a list.

First, when you make your grocery list you should do so after having taken inventory of what is needed around your home. Other things to take into consideration are your budget, what you deem to be a priority and future planning. With all these things in mind you can set out to create your grocery list. Now that you have your list you can decide where to do your shopping. This should primarily be based on competitive pricing, which is why another good practice is to scan the local newspapers and sign up for newsletters and alerts with the local grocers or food manufacturers for coupons and sales.

Next, after you’ve made your list, gathered your coupons, and decided where to shop its time to do the actual shopping. When it comes to grocery shopping smart planning is key. However, it can at times be challenging because not only are you attempting to realize cost savings, but you also want to make healthy food choices and herein lies the challenge. This is where smart planning, difficult decision-making, budget and grocery lists all come into play simultaneously.

For instance, say you’re looking to purchase ketchup. You see that the store brand ketchup is on sale for an unbeatable price at your local grocer. However, you also know that it’s over-ridden with high fructose corn syrup and other nutrient dense ingredients that you prefer to do without. Meanwhile, the organic ketchup is also on sale at the health food store, but cost a dollar more. What do you do? You’re on a tight budget, but at the same time you’re determined to change your eating habits for the better and ketchup is on your grocery list. Well, it comes down to what’s more important, money or your health. In the end, you realize that you can’t buy good health and without it you cease to be so you purchase the organic ketchup and feel good about your decision. After all, you didn’t stray from your list and you still realized a cost savings, which was actually two-fold. You saved money on the retail price and a future trip to the doctor or on prescription drugs needed to treat a health problem which was the result of a poor diet.

Smart shopping is not just about grocery list and coupons, but it’s about making healthy choices and careful meal planning that in the end save you more than just money. Smart shopping is essentially about making you a priority.

House Shopping: Reflect, Research, Rejoice

Deciding what really matters to you and figuring out how to get it is critical to accomplishing your key life goals: Finding the perfect partner, planning your dream vacation, taping three shows while watching a fourth. So it only stands to reason that house shopping will benefit from the same approach.

In seeking your ideal home, where you buy is equally important as what you buy. And as it happens, choosing a location has a lot in common with selecting a spouse. To truly meet your match, you must be clear on who you are and what you value.

Get Real (Estate)

When you first met Mr. or Ms. Right, you may have thought they could do no wrong. But after a few years of morning breath and ill-advised karaoke performances, you realize that the perfect mate is rarer than the drama-free Christmas dinner. Fortunately, all that matters is whether they’re perfect for you, and the same applies to house shopping. So start by taking stock of who you are.

Swinging single?

If connecting with others is a priority, look for an area that gives you ample opportunity. Maybe it’s near a university or college, a health club or some notable nightlife. Sure, there’s something to be said for getting away from it all. But like skinny-dipping and scrabble, it’s more fun when you have someone to share it with.

Couple with kids?

When house shopping, it’s just common sense to make sure there are schools nearby if you won’t have time to drive your kids and don’t want them taking the bus. Beyond that though, you’ll want to approach it like you did the dating game (hopefully): Quality over quantity.

Do the local schools have a good reputation? What are the class sizes and teacher turnover rates? You wouldn’t let a son or daughter skip their homework, so make sure you do yours before closing the deal.

On the other hand, if you’re retired or close to it, proximity to schools won’t be top of your list when house shopping. In fact, if hundreds of squealing kids at recess isn’t your idea of R & R, you may wish to give them a wide berth. Instead, look for restaurants, theaters, public libraries and community centers. If they’re all within walking distance, you’ll be more likely to leave the car at home and combine fitness with fun.

Be Mindful of what Matters

Just as your spouse is considerate of your preferences and passions, the neighborhood in which you settle should support your priorities. Like many others, you may put a premium on peace and quiet, so scope out the area for highways, railway tracks, bars and shopping centers. They may add convenience, but if they subtract from your sanity, it may be time to re-do the math.

Also think about how you spend your spare time. If you love to golf, being hours away from the nearest course may really tee you off. Should religion be part of your life, having a place of worship in the area could be a godsend. Ultimately, house shopping is all about honoring your values and finding a neighborhood that does the same.

So before you leap into the first great home you see, look around and make sure it’s somewhere that supports who you are and what you value. In other words, don’t rush the home hunting process. Like meeting your match, the search is half the fun. And in both cases, if you don’t get it right the first time, it could be costly.

How to Go Shopping For Halloween Costumes

So you have nailed down on a great Halloween theme for the family and is anxiously thinking of how to get the right costumes. Make your shopping for Halloween costumes a fun experience. These are some ways to make your shopping trip an enjoyable experience.

Make a Trip To The Local Costume and Novelty Shops

Before you decide to make a trip to the local costume and novelty shops, do a web search to get some ideas related to your Halloween costume themes. Selections are aplenty on the web and are easy to pick some costumes that you like. Map out a visual image of your favorite costumes. Make a trip to the local costume and novelty shops and check out the costumes featured there. Even though these stores may have limited selections when compared to web stores, you are likely to see their most sellable items prominently displayed; this gives you a hint of the popular trends. You can also get to feel the real garment, its quality and material, accompanying sizes etc. Very likely, the same costume you find and like at the local store will be also available from the web. Just note that costume prices at the local costume and novelty shops may be slightly higher than those featured in the web stores. But at the same time, you might be lucky to find a piece with substantial discounts, with some bargaining of course. The real advantage of buying from a local store is the ease and convenience of returning a faulty costume.

If you are planning to buy a costume online, make sure that you plan your purchase early. These are the things to look out for when making online Halloween costumes purchase online:

  1. Make sure you choose a reputable store with a good selection of costumes
  2. Check for shipping policies, rates and delivery time lines. You could save on any free shipping orders or consolidate your orders to qualify for free shipping (if any).
  3. Note the store return policy which may be printed in fine prints. Read the procedures related to item returns.
  4. Check out any Money-Back guarantees.

For online Halloween costumes purchase, the key is to plan and make the purchase early. Do not overlook the delivery lead time in order to receive your costumes on time. Having your costumes delivered earlier give you the extra lead time in case of returns due to faulty costumes. Remember, for online purchases, there are procedures and associated lead time for item returns; so comb through these procedures carefully. Very likely, you are required to file for a RMA (Returned Merchandise Authorization) notification, return the item by postal services and wait for the replacement costume. If not carefully planned, you might risk having to pay extra for priority shipping. Factoring these contingencies will help you. Risks associated with possible merchandise returns would potentially ruin your Halloween party.

Due to the seasonal nature of Halloween, some online shoppers prefer to wait till the last minute commit to an online costume purchase, believing that they might get substantial discounts during the rush last minute shopping spree. This is not always the case. Any marginal discounts gained would be negated by having to choose for the more expensive priority shipping methods. Besides, due to the end seasonal frenzy shopping spree, the costumes you have seen eyeing all this while may well be out of stock by then. Avoid any disappointments by planning your purchase early.

Swapping Halloween Costumes

If you have used Halloween costumes, consider swapping them with others. There is a growing trend to swap Halloween costumes nowadays, as judged by the growing numbers of website and forums dedicated to Halloween costumes swapping. Joins community groups in your neighborhood, or start one such group if it does not exists and gleans much fun from swapping costumes. The only drawback for costume swaps is perhaps the limitations to generic themed costumes. For more popular, trendy, movie oriented themes like Transformers Halloween Costume, GI Joe Snake Eyes Halloween Costume or Cleopatra Costume etc, most would opt for outright purchases.

Buying Used Halloween Costume

You can also get great value Halloween costume by buying a used one instead. Most of these costumes are “almost new” but be prepared to inspect the quality first. Perhaps a little refurbishing is all you need to freshen up the costumes and keep them in future to swap for others if necessary. These are the good places to find a used Halloween costume:

  • Online auction like eBay
  • Thrift Store and Flea Market
  • Garage Sales
  • Friends, relatives and coworkers
  • Classified Ads